Tobi Amusan’s Guano Lessons

July 27, 2022
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All through yesterday and most of this morning, I have been seeing lots of tributes to Ijebuland in honor of its indigenes our super girl Tobi Amusan, Anthony Joshua, and Isreal Adesanya who are champion Boxers. Most of the messages have the same format: ‘From Anthony Joshua to Isreal and now Tobi – It must be something in the Ijebu water or the Ijebu Gari, Ikokore or Ebiripo’. Perhaps it is something in the water or food but who will lead the research? Come with me to the 19th Century, perhaps we can learn something from the Guano.

The 18th and 19th Century was a critical time for humans as food security was heavily threatened by the poor yield of crops, in fact, there were cases of famine across the World. Nations found it difficult to feed their burgeoning populations. Several substances including grounded bones were used to boost production with limited success. In 1804 a European Explorer, Alexander Von Humboldt  found out that there was bountiful harvest in some parts of South America, notably Peru.

He further discovered that the Agric practices in those places involved the application of Guano on the crops, the same way we apply manure in the garden. Guano is the poop droppings of the bird Guanay Cormorant and some specie of Bats.

This revolutionalized agriculture worldwide and started the rush for guano. It got so bad that there were several wars to claim areas that had Guanay Cormorant habitats. Notable among these was the war in 1864 between Peru and Spain that escalated into a mini-World War – all for the control of Guano, the super fertilizer. Even the United States passed the Guano Islands Act which allowed American Citizens to claim any Island they wished as long as it contained guano.

After a while German Scientist, Fritz Haber analyzed guano & found out that it contained Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus, elements that all plants need in order to grow and produce and which are depleted from the soil after every farming cycle. Mr. Haber synthesized these elements in the Lab & the Fertilizer as we know it today was born. There is still a moderate demand for guano as a result of the recent rise in organic farming but its glory days are over.

A few years ago there was a documentary about Igbo-Ora, the town with the highest number of twins in the World. There is the hypothesis that it could be the water but nothing conclusive that I know about came out of that. Now, we have sports giants, if it is food or water, can we prove this for sure and become the chief exporter of superfoods? Can these foods and drinks be synthesized in the Lab and then can we gain valuable patents? Perhaps, like the Guano, we are on the threshold of something great here, but like all of 9ja’s potentials ‘who will bell the cat?’

How do you treat opportunities to learn, grow & innovate? There are great opportunities everywhere, be like Alexander the explorer. When you travel and admire the great civilizations across the world, pick one thing you will implement at home and in the office. Don’t just regale us with your travel pictures. Also be like Scientist Haber, find ways to add value to the things handed over to you. Find the underlying assumptions for the things happening around you. Ask and find answers to questions like why are we (humans) here?’ Have an open mind about things and not be bound by cultural limitations.

Now, let’s go back to celebrating Tobi, perhaps someone will consider it very important to find out why Ijebuland is producing champions.

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